VII. Guarantee of the Rights of
The Minority Nationality

China is a unified, multi-national country, with 56 nationalities in all. The Han people take up 92 percent of the total population of the country, leaving 8 percent for the other 55 nationalities. To realize equality, unity and common prosperity among the nationalities is China's basic principle guiding relationships between nationalities. The Constitution provides that all nationalities in the People's Republic of China are equal. The state protects the lawful rights and interests of the minority nationalities and upholds and develops the relationship of equality, unity and mutual assistance among all of China's nationalities. Discrimination against and oppression of any nationality are prohibited, and any acts that undermine the unity and create splits among the nationalities are also prohibited. The Constitution clearly stipulates that in striving for unity among all its nationalities, China opposes great-nation chauvinism, especially great-Han chauvinism, as well as local nationalism.

In old China, severe national discrimination and oppression existed over a long period of time. Many of the minority nationalities, who were in straitened circumstances and not countenanced, had to hide in the mountains and live a life of seclusion from the outside world.

After the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, discrimination against and oppression of minority nationalities were abolished and their condition underwent a thorough change. In the 1950s, the Chinese government organized a large-scale investigation for identification of the nationalities. After scientific differentiation, 55 minority nationalities were acknowledged and this fact was announced publicly. Most of the minority nationalities, for the first time in China's history, became equal members of the great family of Chinese nationalities.

New China brought about the system of regional autonomy for minority nationalities. Organs of self-government were set up in regions where people of minority nationalities live in compact communities, and the internal affairs of the minority nationalities were handled by themselves. At present, there are throughout the country 159 national autonomous areas, including five autonomous regions, 30 autonomous prefectures and 124 autonomous counties (or banners). National autonomous areas exercise all rights of self-government in accordance with the Law of the People's Republic of China on Regional National Autonomy and may work out autonomous rules and specific regulations according to local political, economic and cultural characteristics. Without violating the Constitution and the law, autonomous regions have the right to adopt special policies and flexible measures; autonomous organs can apply for permission to make alterations or desist from implementing resolutions, decisions, orders and instructions made by higher-level state organs if they are not in accordance with the situation in autonomous regions. Organs of self-government have the right to handle local financial, economic, cultural and educational affairs. In regions where people of a number of nationalities live together or in scattered communities, more than 1,500 national townships were established so as to enable minority nationalities to enjoy equal rights to the fullest.

In New China the political rights of minority nationalities are ensured.

Before liberation, the minority nationalities, like the majority of the Han people, suffered under severe oppression by the reactionary ruling class. The oppression in some areas took more savage and cruel forms than in others. For instance, in old Tibet, over 95 percent of Tibetans, from generation to generation, were serfs attached to officials, nobles and lamaseries. According to the 13-Article Code and the 16-Article Code which had been enforced for several hundred years in old Tibet, Tibetans were divided into three classes and nine grades. The lives of ironsmiths, butchers and women, who were declared an inferior grade of inferior class in explicit terms, were as cheap and worthless as a straw rope. This feudal serf system with its hierarchy of three classes and nine grades was boltered by cruel punishments such as gouging out eyes, cutting off feet, removing the tongue, chopping off hands and arms, pushing an offender off a cliff or drowning. Under such circumstances, the human rights of the majority of laboring people were out of the question.

After New China was founded, the old system was abolished and democratic reforms were carried out in one minority area after another. In Tibet, the serfs shook off their chains, and are no longer serf-owners' private property that can be bought, sold, transferred, bartered or used to clear a debt, no longer to suffer the above-mentioned savage punishments, and no longer divided into the three classes and nine grades. Thanks to the democratic reform, the minority nationalities, oppressed for generations, obtained the freedom of person and human dignity, won basic human rights and for the first time became masters of their own destiny.

Today, the minority nationalities, as equals of the Han nationality, enjoy all the civil rights which are set down in the Constitution and the law. In addition, the minority nationalities enjoy some special rights accorded to them by law.

The right of the minority nationalities to participate in the exercise of the supreme power of the state is specially protected. The Constitution stipulates that "all the minority nationalities are entitled to appropriate representation" in the National People's Congress (NPC), the highest organ of state power. The proportion of deputies elected by the minority nationalities to the NPC in the total number of NPC deputies is always about twice as large as the proportion of members of the minority nationalities in the country's total population. Of the deputies to the Seventh National People's Congress, 455 or 15 percent come from minority nationalities. And even the Loba, Hezhe and Monba nationalities, with only several thousand people, are represented in the NPC.

The local people's congress is the local organ of state power. As prescribed in China's Electoral Law, in areas where the people of minority nationalities live in compact communities, each minority nationality of a compact community should have its own deputies to the local people's congress. The law also has stipulations for special consideration to be given to the deputies from each minority nationality in the election. According to these stipulations, if the total population of a minority nationality in a region where people of minority nationalities live in compact communities is less than 15 percent of the total population of the region, the population that each deputy of the minority nationality represents can be less than the population that each deputy to the local people's congress represents.

The Chinese people of all nationalities are eligible to hold any posts in the state organ and government departments. In this respect, there is also no discrimination against the minority nationalities. For instance, not a few members of minority nationalities are holding or once held such high-ranking state posts as vice-president of the state, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC, vice-premier of the State Council, president of the Supreme People's Court, and vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The Law on Regional National Autonomy prescribes that citizens of the minority nationality that exercises regional national autonomy should serve as director or deputy-director of the standing committee of the people's congress of the autonomous region; and the chairman of the regional autonomous government and head of the administration of the autonomous prefecture and the autonomous county should be citizens of the nationality that exercises self-government. The staff and officials of the people's governments of the autonomous regions, and of the departments affiliated to them, should include members of the nationality that exercises regional national autonomy and members of other minority nationalities. Statistics show that in 1989 the number of minority officials made up 17.27 percent of the total number of directors and deputy-directors of the standing committees of the people's congresses of various provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government. The number of minority officials made up 12.66 percent of the governors or vice-governors of provinces, mayors or deputy-mayors of municipalities, and chairmen or vicechairmen of autonomous regions. Of the directors or deputy-directors of the standing committees of the people's congresses at levels of city, prefecture and autonomous prefecture, minority officials reached 14.20 percent. The number of minority officials among mayors or deputy-mayors, commissioners and directors of prefectures took up 11.90 percent. Of the directors or deputy-directors of the standing committees of the people's congresses at the county level, minority officials totalled 17.30 percent. Minority officials made up 15.16 percent of county magistrates. All these proportions surpass 8 percent which is the proportion covered by the population of the minority nationalities in the total population of the country.

The state always pays close attention to training cadres from among people of minority nationalities. In recent years, the number of minority nationality cadres has gone up at a rate of more than 10,000 people annually. Now there are 37,000 Tibetan cadres throughout Tibet, making up 66.6 percent of the total number of cadres; this breaks down to about 72 percent at autonomous-region level and 61.2 percent at county level. The number of Mongolian cadres accounted for 50 percent of the total number of cadres in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The rights of the national autonomous regions to economic, cultural and social development are given special consideration. Before the founding of the People's Republic of China, the economic, cultural and social development in minority areas was extremely backward. At that time, some areas were still at the stage of primitive clan communes, with people practicing slash-and-burn cultivation. The minority nationalities lived in dire poverty. The average life expectancy was only 30 years, and epidemic diseases were rampant, with the result that the population decreased year after year. After the founding of New China, the people's government actively helped the minority nationalities develop their economies and culture in an effort to change their outdated mode of production. This enabled them to leap over several historical stages of social development. Now most of the minority nationalities have solved the problem of food and clothing, and the total population of the minority nationalities increased from 35 million in 1953 to 91.20 million in 1990. The growth rate of the population of minority nationalities is faster than that of the Hans. The average life expectancy of the minority nationalities is over 60, an increase of more than 30 years over the past.

In order to help minority nationalities develop their economies, the state has carried out economic construction on a large scale in minority areas. In some of these areas where there was no industry at all in the past, many large modern industrial enterprises have been set up. These include the Karamay Oilfield in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the Baotou Iron and Steel Co. in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the Longyang Xia Hydroelectric Power Station in Qinghai, the Daba Power Plant in Guizhou, the Yangbajin Thermal and Power Station in Tibet, the Guizhou Aluminium Works in Guizhou, the Holingol River Coalfield in Inner Mongolia, the North Xinjiang Railway in Xinjiang, the Sichuan-Tibet Highway and the Qinghai-Tibet Highway. Before liberation, there were no highways worthy of the name in Tibet. When the British wanted to send a car to the Dalai Lama as a gift, it had to be dismantled and carried to Lhasa by yak-back. At present, a highway network centered on Lhasa has been built, its mileage reaching 21,800 kilometers, and many domestic and international airlines have already opened. The state always gives aid in the form of labor, material and financial resources to national autonomous regions. Today the central government provides subsidies totalling nearly 8 billion yuan a year to minority areas in eight provinces and autonomous regions. Of them, Tibet receives more than 1.2 billion yuan. Besides, the state also allocates special funds totalling 600 million yuan a year to aid minority areas, such as development funds to support underdeveloped areas, subsidies for areas inhabited by minority nationalities, special investments in capital construction in frontier areas, as well as operating expenses to subsidize border construction. The government pursues a tax-reduction and tax-exemption policy towards poverty-stricken minority areas in addition to many special measures adopted to lighten their financial burdens, provide preferential investment for them and send them help in the form of brain power and wholesale contract to enable them to get rid of poverty. Special funds have been set up to supply food and clothing to minority areas. The government has also arranged for the economically developed areas to provide assistance to the economic construction in minority areas. The economic construction in minority areas has made great progress thanks to help from the state and efforts by the local people. The total output value of industry and agriculture of minority regions in 1949 was 3.66 billion yuan; of this, 3.12 billion yuan came from agricultural production and 540 million yuan from industrial production. In the same areas the total industrial and agricultural output value in 1990 came to 227.28 billion yuan, an increase of 23.6 times by calculating at 1980 constant price. Of this, the value of agricultural output was 97.776 billion yuan, up 8.1 times; and 129.506 billion yuan for industry, a hike of 135.5 times.

As for employment policy, the Chinese government has formulated a special policy for the minority nationalities. The government requires that state-owned enterprises in minority areas give precedence to local citizens of the minority nationalities over all others when recruiting workers, and that various local governments, when recruiting workers for state-owned enterprises, should employ minority farmers and herdsmen from rural and pastoral areas in a planned way.

The Chinese government has greatly developed medical and health undertakings in the minority regions, tackling the problem of shortage of doctors and medicine that has existed for a long time there. In 1990, health organizations in those regions increased to 31,973, providing 359,830 hospital beds, and the ranks of doctors and nurses have grown to 488,600. While furthering the practice of modern medicine, the government encourages the development of traditional minority medical practice including the Tibetan, Uygur, Mongolian and Dai medicines. The central government has sent a large number of medical teams to minority regions. During the period from 1973 to mid-1987, the state organized medical teams totalling 2,600 persons from some dozen provinces and cities and sent them into Tibet.

The Chinese government has paid a great deal of attention to maintaining and developing the excellent traditional cultures of various nationalities, and made tremendous efforts to promote the culture and education of the minority nationalities. By 1990, there had been 75 institutions of higher learning established in minority areas where in previous years there were none. A total of 12 nationality colleges run specially for minority nationality students have been set up in different parts of the country. In addition, some well-known universities including Beijing University and Qinghua University run classes specially for minority nationality students. When enrolling new students, colleges and vocational secondary schools appropriately relax admission standards for minority examinees. The government has actively created conditions for teenagers living in pastoral and remote areas to receive education by establishing boarding schools in minority areas, where students coming from pastoral, mountainous and poverty-stricken areas usually enjoy grants-in-aid. The state has transferred many teachers from inland and coastal areas to remote minority regions to help expand educational undertakings there. Between 1974 and 1988, the number of teachers helping in Tibet alone numbered 2,969. The enrollment of minority students in colleges and universities throughout the country in 1989 was 102.4 times that of 1950; in ordinary middle schools, they totalled 70.3 times that of 1951; and in primary schools, 11.2 times that of 1951.

China's law stipulates that all minority peoples have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages. In the performance of their functions, the selfgovernment organs in autonomous regions should use one or several locally used languages according to the regulations of autonomy set by the autonomous regions. Those organs which simultaneously use several commonly used languages in their work can give priority to the language of the nationality which exercises regional autonomy. The spoken and written languages of minority nationalities are equal to the Han language (Chinese) in judicial activities. Citizens of all nationalities have the right to use the language of their own nationality in legal proceedings. Trials in regions where minority nationalities live in compact communities. or which are inhabited by many nationalities should be conducted in the commonly used language of the locality. Indictments, court verdicts, notices and other documents, if necessary, should be written in one or several local languages.

The central government supports minority nationalities in the development of culture and education through the use of their own languages and has helped ten minority nationalities create their own script. Both central and regional specialized publishing houses and news agencies were established to publish minority-language newspapers, magazines and books, which in 1989, according to statistics, were respectively 3.1, 7.6 and 5.8 times the number published throughout the country in 1952. People in minority regions can tune in to the Central People's Broadcasting Station every day to listen to programs in Mongolian, Tibetan, Uygur, Kazak and Korean languages. Each minority region runs radio and TV programs in one or several minority languages appropriate to the nationality population living there.

The Chinese government fully respects the traditional culture and customs of minority nationalities, supports various minority arts, and encourages minority people to go in for all forms of artistic and sports activities. People from minority areas can take holidays on their own traditional festivals. Gold, silver and other raw materials are allotted in certain amounts by the government to the minority peoples for the production of the daily necessities or luxury articles including silks, satins, shoes, hats, jewelry, jade artifacts and gold or silver ornaments.

The disparity between the minority regions and the inland and coastal areas arose and developed over a long historical period. For more than 40 years since the People's Republic was founded, the Chinese government has made positive achievements in its effort to narrow the gap, promote social development and bring about a change for the better in the backward minority areas.